Behind the Forbidden Door: Part Eight
"There was an escape hatch and an airlock in the back of
the ship. I used them." It was the Space Faerie.
Lerox stared in astonished wonder at the powerful
Faerie- that elusive crusader whom so few Neopians ever met, but to whom they
owed their freedom- and, in some cases, their lives.
The Space Faerie cocked her head. "Did you come
here specifically for me, or did you have another purpose?"
To his surprise and embarrassment, Lerox choked
up. "We were trying to save my sister. Sloth has her, and..." At this, his throat
got too tight to speak, and Lerox struggled to hold back tears while the tall
Faerie stared down at him with great compassion in her eyes.
"What does your sister look like?"
Lerox tried to speak but couldn't, so Flingon
answered for him. "She's a blue Acara, bigger than Lerox but smaller than me."
He hesitated for a moment, then added tentatively, "Do you think you can help
The Space Faerie looked suddenly agitated. "Neopia
is under attack," she said, but seeing the look of despair on the two Neopets'
faces she added, "Is Sloth on that ship?"
Flingon nodded. He knew Sloth would want to
make a grand entrance in his colossal ship when Neopia was soundly defeated.
Certainly he would not have suffered himself to miss the Space Faerie's demise.
A smile pulled at the Space Faerie's lips. "I
think the quickest way to save Tishka- and Neopia- is to go straight to the
source of the problem. I'll go get Tishka, and deal with Sloth."
Lerox was beginning to regain his composure,
and he did not want to be left out of the action. "What do we do?" he asked.
The Space Faerie opened her mouth to answer,
but Flingon beat her to it. "While she deals with Sloth, we'll go straight to
the main computer core... and shut down the entire ship!"
Doctor Sloth beamed wickedly as the Grarrl captain
dragged Tishka into the room. "So we meet again!" he said gleefully.
"Thank you for stating the obvious."
Sloth's eyes narrowed. He had hoped this brat
would be scared out of her wits- this didn't look like it was going to be as
fun as he expected. "I hope it is also obvious that you will soon be begging
for death unless you cooperate."
"Mommy help me." Although she was inwardly trembling,
Tishka's voice was dry and full of sarcasm, and her spirits lifted when she
heard how calm she sounded.
"It'll take more than your Mommy to save you
now- although some useful information might help. Where is Flingon?"
"Where is Flingon?"
"That's what I'm asking!"
"That's what I'm asking!"
"Dare you mock me?!"
"Dare you mock me?!"
"You are a stupid little thing, aren't you?"
"Does that mean we're related?"
"UGH! Enough! Let's hear you say something smart
about this!" With that, Sloth grabbed a blowtorch from its hook on the wall-
one of many weapon-bearing hooks he had positioned along the walls for effect.
Also for effect, he pointed the blowtorch straight up and hit the 'on' button
for a moment, allowing the fire to dance in the air for a moment before turning
it off- too late for the lock of hair that had gotten caught in the flame.
Tishka wanted to stay quiet until the fire reached
Sloth's head, but she couldn't help it. She burst out laughing.
"What is so funny?!?" Sloth bellowed, storming
toward the chuckling Acara. Tishka said nothing, but stood grinning beside the
door through which her Grarrl escort had retreated. A few seconds later, revelation
came to Sloth in the form of a burning sensation on the side of his head. The
big ugly bully let out a hideous scream, and all Tishka could say about it was,
"Sloth a la flambe!"
That did it. The 'fancy cuisine' instantly underwent
a complete loss of temper, and with a howl of rage Sloth ripped a whip off its
hook; and before Tishka could dodge, the cruel thing whistled through the air
and sliced across her left cheek. Blinking back tears, the captive Acara glared
at her captor as defiantly as she could, and Sloth swung his fist at her. Tishka
closed her eyes and braced herself for the blow, which sent her reeling through
the air. Tishka hit the ground, skidded to a halt, and lay motionless, trying
to rally her senses. Sloth grinned cruelly, took a firmer grip on his whip,
and advanced toward his dazed victim.
Beeeep! The button Sloth's underlings used to
request permission to enter Buzzed, and Sloth whirled around in a rage. Who
could possibly dare to interrupt him while he toyed with his prisoner?! Taking
a deep breath, Sloth decided to lay down the law in no uncertain terms. "If
you are a slave, then go to your taskmaster and tell him I said to pound you
senseless! If you are some sort of unauthorized robot experiment, go grab your
maker and self-destruct! And if you are a soldier bringing a report from the
battle- well... come back later! I'm busy!"
A female voice answered, starting out hard and
icy and ending in a snarl. "And if I happen to be a particularly powerful defender
of Neopia who thinks you are a detestable windbag and an egotistical clod, then
I can do THIS!"
Sloth had approximately 0.4 seconds to be irked,
amused and bewildered by this cocky girl who spoke to him so boldly- and then
the door erupted out of the wall with an explosive BOOM and a scream of tortured
metal before rushing across the room and slamming itself against the opposite
wall. Sloth's heart pounded sickeningly like a sodden lump of pure terror, his
stomach felt queasy and his palms were suddenly slick with sweat, and he could
only watch in horror as the Space Faerie stalked into the room, her fiery red
"EEEAAAGH!" Sloth screeched, backing away from
his powerful nemesis as if the floor he was standing on burned his feet. "How
did you escape?"
The Space Faerie's tone had resumed its icy
calmness, but an edge of righteous fury lingered beneath the surface. "With
the help of a few good friends." Turning to Tishka, the Faerie added, "Your
friend and your brother have been looking for you."
Tishka, who had recovered her senses by now,
was staring at the Space Faerie with the same astonishment Lerox had displayed.
The Space Faerie rarely visited Neopia except in times of great danger, and
Tishka had no idea why she would spend her time looking for a young Acara. But
then she remembered the Faerie's words: "With the help of a few good friends",
and she realized what had happened while she was mouthing off at Sloth.
With a few sweeping strides, the Space Faerie
covered the distance between herself and Tishka and scooped the small Neopet
up, then began walking back toward the door as if she owned the place. She seemed
perfectly calm and confident, but Tishka could feel the tenseness in her arms
and she knew that the Faerie was watching Sloth intently out of the corner of
It was a good thing she did, for Sloth, getting
partly over his fear, snatched a ray gun off the wall and aimed it at his two
enemies. Tishka closed her eyes and prepared herself for death; but then she
felt a lurching sensation and, opening her eyes just a crack, she realized she
was now five feet to the right of where she had been an instant before. But
Sloth still had his ray gun, and both Tishka and the Space Faerie were still
Breathing heavily, Sloth hurried over to the
wall, flipped open a panel and hit a large red button. Instantly the ship was
filled with the eerie, high-pitched screaming of sirens. Sloth had triggered
Lerox and Flingon pressed themselves against
the wall as every person, animal and robot on the ship hastened toward the source
of the alarm. "What's happening?" Lerox asked, his voice barely audible above
the wailing Faerie alarm.
"They know the Space Faerie is here. Don't worry,
Lerox- she can take care of herself. And in the meantime, it gives us time to
do our work without having to keep looking over our shoulders."
The Space Faerie dodged and twisted furiously,
barely avoiding Sloth's wild shots. "You will not defeat me a second time!"
the green horror raged. "This time I will rule!"
The Space Faerie made no reply, but skimmed
close to a wall and then shot toward the ceiling. Had she been alone she would
have simply punched a hole in the roof and escaped through that- but with this
trembling young Acara in her arms...
Sloth whirled around as the Faerie sped past
him in a rush of body and wings, then prepared to fire again.
Tishka's mind was working fast. The last time
they had passed near the wall had been an opportunity she had missed, but next
time she would be prepared. Yes, here they went... Tishka reached out her paw...
a hook tore off the wall as Tishka snatched up the laser which had hung on it,
and as the Space Faerie zoomed over Sloth's head the young Acara quickly aimed
and fired, dropping Sloth in midsentence. "I am going to- ungh!"
But there was no time to celebrate or even feel
relief. Every being on board knew they were there, and it was only a matter
of seconds before they would be caught in mortal combat with hundreds of enemies
Suddenly the sirens died and the lights went
out. "What happened?" Tishka asked fearfully, but in the faint light of the
stars she saw her new friend smile.
"Flingon did his job."
Tishka's eyes brightened. "Flingon? Is he here?
And what about Lerox?"
"They are attempting to shut the ship down.
It looks like they succeeded. Come- we must go and meet them in the docking
Lerox had opted to stay outside the assault
vessel Flingon had chosen so that he could have room to pace. Flingon had felt
obliged to point out that if there was an emergency it would be safer to stay
in the cockpit, but Lerox had stubbornly shaken his head. "We're waiting for
Tishka and the Space Faerie," he had said firmly. "We're not leaving without
them, and they'll be outside the ship, won't they? I can climb aboard as fast
as they can."
Flingon had had to agree, but he did not join
the young Grundo in his pacing. Feeling the need to do something constructive
to occupy himself during this horrible waiting and wondering, he went to work
on the assault vessel, trying to improve upon its already lethally efficient
weapons system. He knew they would need all the help they could get.
Seven assorted Neopets leapt into their path,
but the Space Faerie simply ploughed through them like a scythe through grass
and kept on going. There was no need to stay and destroy them- with their ship's
computer basically lobotomized there was no way they could hurt Neopia from
here. The two defenders met with little resistance as they sped toward their
friends- the bewilderment of having lost every system on the ship except life
support and artificial gravity had made Sloth's followers slow and unresponsive.
As she and her new friend zipped through the dark and mostly empty corridors,
Tishka couldn't keep the question in any longer. "Do you think I killed Sloth?"
"I don't know. I didn't have time to find out
what that laser was set on, and right now Neopia is my greatest concern. The
king may be down, but the pawns continue their attack."
To be continued...